App Store Search Manipulation

The problems outlined in Blix Inc. v. Apple Inc. (Case No. 1:19-cv-01869-LPS (D. Del.) amended complaint show that Apple has, at nearly every step, stacked the deck against competitors that offer quality alternatives to Apple’s default apps.  As most relevant to Blix, this includes preventing true competition for mail apps on the MacOS and iOS platforms, but it is not just limited to mail apps. 

In fact, Apple’s anticompetitive conduct has involved multiple categories of apps for both platforms, and its anticompetitive scheme includes a number of different, complementary actions.

In short, Apple has crippled true competition for its default apps through a “thousand different cuts.”  This is illegal and must be stopped.

Search Results Manipulation
For years, Apple manipulated the Search feature in its iOS App Store to push consumers away from third-party software and towards Apple’s own software offerings.

September 26, 2019
Shortly after the New York Times’s September 9 story on Apple’s manipulation of App Store search results, Apple’s search rankings changed dramatically.

No rating
Apple’s default applications, such as its Mail application or Books application, cannot be rated by users – insulating Apple software from the risk of negative reviews or low ratings. 

Apps and Games we Love
On information and belief, Apple intentionally decided to promote low-quality competitors, to give consumers the illusion that only low-quality applications were available as substitutes for Apple’s pre-installed Mail application.

Apple has used other designs in its “Search” interface to ensure oversized portions of the user interface lead users away from competitors’ apps and towards Apple-curated lists or Apple-selected advertisements.

App Store Layout
On information and belief, Apple’s layout for the iOS App Store’s “Search” feature forces a user to scroll significantly in order to reach many – and sometimes any – third-party applications.

Blix Inc. v Apple Inc. Amended Complaint
(Case No. 1:19-cv-01869-LPS (D. Del.)